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present and not partially, in all places. Such is the office of the Holy Ghost : and where Christ is present, God is present; present in an intelligible, comfortable form ; apprehensive to all our faculties, and sustentative of all our infirmities; and so having Godhead with us, and in us, in a comprehensive and comprehensible form, we, possessed, delighted, and ravished therewith, do offer worship, yield homage, and submit ourselves in all things to Godhead, incomprehensible, impassable, standing in the person of the Father being yet the one Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; so that the end of the whole purpose is to make Godhead to be known, to be possessed by, yet not be mixed with, but ever worshipped out of, the creature. This is the answer to the question, · How is Christ the God-man, now in heaven, the embodied Godhead limited to place,-how is he present every where in all the churches?' It is answered like every other question, by the exposition of the Trinity; by wbich, and by which alone, questions in theology, questions in practical, vital godliness, can be answered.
We now come to the second part of the Epistle, which is the charge to the angel, in whom the whole state and condition of the church is seen as represented, and who is taken as the responsible person by the great Head of the church. The notion which I have expressed concerning these churches, that they present seven varieties of temptation and condition, with seven varieties of instruction, to the end of greater completeness in the code of laws and precepts, to be communicated through them to all the churches; this notion will now come to be tried.
The specific pecu. liarity of the church of Ephesus consisteth, as it seems to me, in a declension of their first love, which ought to grow stronger and stronger according to our longer acquaintance with the unchangeable grace and goodness of our Lord and Master. To this temptation, man's changeableness and love of novelty make him liable. The zeal of a new convert is a proverbial expression, rebuking I know not, whether more our love of novelty, or the diminished zeal of the more experienced. This falling away from primi. tive zeal is the temptation before which the angel of the church in Ephesus bad not been able to stand, and against
which he is warned and threatened, if he repented not. And the proper retort in the government of Christ for this form of backsliding is, “the removal of the candlestick out of its place ;” that is, the total falling away of the church out of the number of Christian churches, through a gradual decay and consumption of its strength. While this I regard as the specific peculiarity of the Ephesian church amongst the rest, I do not mean to say that this is the only or principal thing to be attended to ; for every word of these epistles is full of instruction as to the character of the Universal Bishop, and the duty of his angels, and therefore word by word we shall examine them.
“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience." All the charges, without one exception, begin with these words, “I know thy works;” which must, therefore, be regarded as a common condition of all the churches to be known of Jesus, our great Bishop. This is the fruit of his walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks, that he is thoroughly acquainted with the condition of each; this is the property of those eyes like a flame of fire, that they penetrate to the hearts and reins of the children of men; those seven eyes in the head of the Lamb which are the seven Spirits of God, that they embrace sevenfold or all-inclusive knowledge. As the Head of the church, therefore, Christ is omniscient; not merely in the Godhead, but in his Christhead: as God man, he is through the communicating Spirit conscious of all things which pass over the wide bounds of creation. It is vain for any angel of the churches to think of concealment; whatever we do of iniquity, we do daringly under the eye of Him to whom we are responsible; whatever we suffer through negligence, we suffer in the presence of Him who is our Lord, and to whom we shall have to give an account of our stewardship. Oh that we could bear in mind that he is in the midst of us, continually surveying our churches, knowing all their dis. cipline, and observing all their order ; that we are in his right hand, continually known of him more thoroughly than we are known of ourselves! What jealousy over our thoughts, what heed unto our words, what care of our flocks, what constancy in the truth, what fear of wickedness would not this work within us! What consolation also in our adversity, what upholding in our sore oppres
sions, what confidence in the midst of trials, what reward in the midst of persecutions, that he knoweth all our works, of what kind they are !
Having declared his perfect and complete knowledge of all the works of the angel of the Ephesian church, our Great Bishop proceeds to commend whatever he could in his conduct, which I likewise observe to be a constant rule in these epistles, bringing to view the tenderness, and charity, and kindness of Him we serve; and proving that he delighteth not to make mention of the evil, but of the good, grieveth to rebuke, and loveth to commend; teaching to all masters under him, to all ministers of the word, to all princes of the people and magistrates of the earth, how they should carry themselves at all times with loving kindness, with countenance and patronage of what is good, - with severity, and censure, and chastisement, only when it is called for ; with the one cheerfully, with the other reluctantly; with the one joyfully, with the other painfully. While this kindly and gracious character of our great Bishop and Lord, is taught us by his general rule of commencing his charges, however severe, with commendations of what would bear commendation, the particular good qualities which he commendeth, of labour and patience in the angel of the Ephesian Church, do confirm the idea, given above, of the specific difference which characteriseth this epistle : for labour and patience are the proof of zeal and love in the service of any master. In these he had once abounded, preaching the Gospel, and proving the weapons of his warfare, against that strong hold of Satan where he dwelt. And whosoever would plant or edify the church of Christ must do it with much labour and patience. It is not a work which will bear to be slightly done, nor to be daub. ed with untempered mortar.
It is not the work of the Lord's day merely, although that is the harvest day of the faithful minister; but it is the work of the whole week ever recurring, and ever prosecuted with unceasing dili. gence. To relax, is to fall away from our first love, and to stand in peril of seeing our church decline through our slothfulness. Then, when such seasons of fleshly oppression, or worldly temptation arrive, we do well to attend to this charge, given to the angel of the Ephesian church, and to meditate the aspect of our Lord, with whịch it is introduced; as holding the stars in his right hand
and walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. And if any thing will awaken us from our temporary stupor, the belief and the constant remembrance of this truth will do it. From this general recognition and acknowledgment of his servant's diligence and patience, his gracious and loving Master passeth on to distinguish those things which he particularly approved.
“And how thou canst not bear with them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and hast found them liars.” This opens to us some insight into the condition of those primitive churches, and the trials of those primitive pastors. It is a common error to think and to speak of the church as then enjoying great peace and purity of communion, great soundness of doctrine, and undisturbed exercise of wholesome discipline. How this error could arise in the face of the Apostolic Epistles, which open such fearful declensions and apostasies, envies, divisions, and oppositions ; how it should have arisen in the face of all ecclesiastical history, which records the most unheard-of beresies and the most abominable practices which disgraced the Christian name,and brought it into dishonour in those early times, I cannot well account for, otherwise than from the idolatrous desire of finding some outward object of infallibility to worship, and from the controversial questions with the Papacy concerning the authority of the church. But true it is, beyond all doubt, that in comparison with his wild ragings and unbounded licence in the primitive church, Satan may well be said among us to be bound. And therefore, instead of blindly prostrating ourselves before the authority of the fathers and the customs of the early church, we do well to observe the canons and command. ments of the Lord and his Apostles, and bring all things to this the only test of the truth. There is a church whose mouth is opened by Christ, and filled with the testimony of truth in all ages ; but this complete witness of the truth is not, by outward signs and tokens, to be so identified as to give us a visible thing upon which we may fix God's incommunicable attribute of infallibility. This church was most active in the primitive times to purge off from itself those foul pestilences which Satan bred in its bosom. There was such an exuberant health in its constitution, that it did soon cast off those impure blotches which arose upon its surface. But for the strong and patient testimony and labour of the first faithful pastors, the good and evil would have been so intermingled as to have brought about speedy death. Then is a body healthy when it casts off the impurities which it breeds within itself, and heals the wound of its own accord. This office of a physician the bishop of the church in Ephesus had to bear in an especial measure ; for, as hath been said, that city was addicted beyond others to superstition, sorcery, and magic, which are the proper soil for bearing false doctrine and delusions of the devil. The first arch-heretic, according to all ecclesiastical history, was Simon Magus, the sorcerer whom Peter had to deal with at Samaria, who brewed in his devil-possessed heart such hideous errors as men in modern times can hardly conceive, but ere long shall see renewed again ; and there being many of his diabolical craft at Ephesus, we may well believe how the bishop of the church would have continual exercise of his gift of trying the spirits whether they be of God. For we do greatly err, indeed, if we suppose that they came with wickedness in their lips, or with plain and open-faced profession of opposition to the way of truth. They said they were apostles ; that is, men sent from God in order to teach some further truth. Generally they professed to come from the Holy Spirit, some of them to be the Holy Spirit, all of them to be messengers from the invisible God. With what cunning artifice of the devil, with what delusions of a corrupted heart and erroneous mind, with what wresting of the Scriptures to their own destruction they came, let the Apostle Paul declare (2 Cor. xi. 13): “ For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ : and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light : therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works. How these false and cunning men, deceivers and being deceived, were to be proved, the Apostle John teacheth us in his First Epistle, especially in chap. iv. 1 : “ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that